Camerato: Can't expect Pierce to win games on his own


Camerato: Can't expect Pierce to win games on his own

BOSTON -- There was a time when 30 points a game wasn't out of the ordinary for Paul Pierce.

It wasn't unusual to see the Boston Celtics captain lead the way on offense while his teammates trailed behind him on the box score. That was also during a period when the Celtics were struggling to find wins and Pierce was forced to carry the load himself.

Things have changed since the establishment of the "New Big Three" in 2007. Scoring has been distributed among other star players and even when Pierce had a big night, it was often in conjunction with a solid team effort.

Pierce cannot be expected to do it alone. Is he capable of putting the team on his shoulders? Yes. Is that the most effective way for the Celtics to win consistently? No.

On Wednesday Pierce posted a near-flawless 43-point performance (13-16 FG, 6-7 3PG, 8-8 FT) in the Celtics win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Two days later, his 35 points (13-23 FG, 3-7 3PG, 6-8 FT) were not enough to push the Celtics past the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime.

"Its a team game, regardless of how I play," said Pierce. "Weve got to do better in stretches.I think when our offense isnt going for long stretches ,weve got to be able to defend. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, we went into the quarter up like seven or eight and we instantly kind of gave away the lead.Thats the kind of case where even though our shots arent falling, weve got to be able to come down and get stops after stops after stops. It just comes and goes in stretches right now.

Pierce played 43 minutes in the Celtics overtime loss to the Bucks. At 35 years old, head coach Doc Rivers wants to manage his veteran captain's minutes. At the same time, it is hard to do when he is one of the only players making shots.

"Because of the overtime he played more minutes, but hes the only one that really had it going," said Rivers. "I always jokingly and its the truth say its a make-miss league and tonight was evident of that. We had point-blank looks at the rim all through the game and one of the best shooters in the NBA in JET (Jason Terry) and Kevin (Garnett). We got them great shots, just couldnt make them. I thought as the game went on you know you press more and more to make them and we just couldnt.It was one of those games."

Other members of the Celtics will get going offensively -- the team has too much talent to rely on one player. But when the Cs are struggling to find their way to the basket, they know they still have a tried and true option they can turn to. They just don't plan on making a habit out of it.

"When everybodys not making shots youre down, youre looking for whoever is making shots," said Rivers. "They didnt come in the game trying to miss or not ready, just the ball wouldnt go in.

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all.